Nonallelic Gene Conversion in the Genus Drosophila
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Nonallelic gene conversion has been proposed as a major force in homogenizing the sequences of paralogous genes. In this work, we investigate the extent and characteristics of gene conversion among gene families in nine species of the genus Drosophila. We carried out a genome-wide study of 2855 gene families (including 17,742 genes) and determined that conversion events involved 2628 genes. The proportion of converted genes ranged across species from 1 to 9% when paralogs of all ages were included. Although higher levels of gene conversion were found among young gene duplicates, at most 1-2% of the coding sequences of these duplicates were affected by conversion. Using a second approach relying on gene family size changes and gene-tree/species-tree reconciliation methods, we estimate that only 1-15% of gene trees are misled by gene conversion, depending on the lineage considered. Several features of paralogous genes correlate with gene conversion, such as intra-/interchromosomal location, level of nucleotide divergence, and GC content, although we found no definitive evidence for biased substitution patterns. After considering species-specific differences in the age and distance between paralogs, we found a highly significant difference in the amount of gene conversion among species. In particular, members of the melanogaster group showed the lowest proportion of converted genes. Our data therefore suggest underlying differences in the mechanistic basis of gene conversion among species.
author list (cited authors)
Casola, C., Ganote, C. L., & Hahn, M. W.